The government scurried for cover on Thursday, distancing itself from the CBI raid on DMK leader MK Stalin — two days after the party pulled out from the UPA — for alleged illegal import of cars.
While Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said the “timing is most unfortunate”, Congress president Sonia Gandhi had a meeting with V Narayanasamy, minister in-charge of the CBI, who later admitted, “There is no case against him (Stalin).”
Stalin, considered to be the political heir to DMK patriarch M Karunanidhi, is widely believed to have orchestrated the DMK’s pullout on the Sri Lanka Tamils issue.
Though Karunanidhi said he won’t speculate on the reason behind the raid, as it “may or may not be political vendetta”, Stalin said, “It is political vendetta.”
An upset PM came out of his office in Parliament to make a statement. “We are all upset at these events. The government had no role in this... that I am sure of. We will find out the details. This should not have... (happened).”
Finance minister P Chidambaram — who was part of the three-minister team that flew to Chennai on Monday to convince Karunanidhi against withdrawing support — was the first Congress leader to strongly disapprove of the action.
Chidambaram, the Lok Sabha MP from Sivaganga in Tamil Nadu, said, “Whatever be the reason, I am afraid it is bound to be misunderstood and lead to allegations.”
Parliamentary affairs minister Kamal Nath promptly endorsed his view and argued this proved that the government was not dictating the CBI. "I am very very disappointed at the CBI action."
The statement led to a counter-attack from BJP leader Arun Jaitley. "Merely because it has a political fallout, it is improper for any Prime Minister or a finance minister to so blatantly interfere in the functioning of the CBI and cripple it from carrying on its routine investigations," he said.
The CBI later defended its action, saying the operation was strictly in accordance with procedures. "There was no intention whatsoever to target any particular individual," bureau spokesperson Dharini Mishra said. CBI director Ranjit Sinha ordered an inquiry to ascertain if there were any procedural lapses in the raid.